City Councilors: “Homeless hotels drain city resources”

Homeless families stay on average 227 days in emergency shelters

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Close to 200 homeless families were living in hotels in Holyoke last month. Some say that’s 200 too many.

Holyoke City Councilor Joseph McGivern said, “Unacceptable to saturate one community.” Harsh words from Holyoke’s elected leaders about housing homeless families in hotels and motels.

Holyoke Representative Aaron Vega said, “I mean we are not talking about a 5-star Ritz hotel. We’re talking about a one-room hotel that families are living in. No cooking, no food preparation availability, no refrigerators, I mean it’s just a cruel and unusual punishment.”

Governor Deval Patrick wanted all homeless families out of hotels by the end of June, but that self-imposed deadline has passed. Now, hundreds of homeless families continue to live in hotels here in western Massachusetts.

According to the most recent state data, homeless families stay on average 227 days in emergency shelters. Each average stay costs the state $24,516.

Sen. Don Humason, (R) Westfield, told 22News, “We are giving these hotels more per month per family than it would cost for a mortgage on a beautiful house. Something has to be done.”

Holyoke City Councilor David Bartley told 22News homeless hotels cost the city money in other ways. Last year, Holyoke Police responded to 177 calls from the Holyoke Hotel on Whiting Farms Road.

Bartley said “We are a city of immigrants, a nation of immigrants, we want to help people, but let’s spread the burden a little bit. I mean, Longmeadow, Dover, why not pitch in a little bit.”

Representative Aaron Vega and Senator Don Humason said they’ll urge our next governor to make it a priority to end family homelessness.

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